Sunday, December 29, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 19 & Pics

Chapter 19
“Shit!” I gasped, fighting covers, clothes, and nonexistent clammy hands as I sat up in the bottom bunk.
“You okay?” Mickey asked, pulling a heavy hooded sweatshirt over her head before kneeling next to me.
I leaned back against the cold metal wall, bringing my knees up to my chest, which brought me back to reality, but I ran a shaky hand over my face and through my sweaty hair.
“Yeah.” I jerked away when she reached out to touch my leg. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. You want me to get Edward?” she asked.
I silently fought it for a second, but finally nodded, my hands falling down beside me on the bed. It was a nasty fucking dream, and my skin still felt prickly and violated. I knew the nightmares stemmed from being below deck. The cool, damp feel of the air around me, the dark room, and the closed-in feel of the bunk bed brought some old memories to the surface. I’d fought sleep for almost a whole day out at sea before Edward begged me to take a break.
Scooting to the edge of the bed, I stood up, and Mickey got out of my way. I opened the door, pointing to the hallway. “I’m just gonna go wash my face,” I told her.
“Yup. I’ll head up and send pretty boy your way. Okay?” she murmured, heading out into the hallway.

I went the opposite direction toward the bathroom. Just as I reached for the door, the ship shifted and the door swung open. I stumbled a bit, only to be grasped by two strong hands.
“Whoa!” Paul sang, wearing a smarmy grin.
He was a pompous thing, good-looking and quite full of himself, and even though he liked to flirt and send innuendo Mickey’s and my way, so far, he’d behaved. We didn’t think much of it, but Edward didn’t care for the guy, so we’d kept our distance from him.
But he’d picked the wrong moment to touch me.
“Let go, let go,” I hissed through gritted teeth, stumbling again when the boat surged. “Don’t touch me, please!”
Paul righted me again, but didn’t let go. “I’m just trying to keep you from busting that pretty ass of yours, sweatpea.”
I shook my head profusely, trying to back away, but finding only unforgiving steel at my back.
“I’m not sure you’re listening,” I heard before Paul’s grip was suddenly gone.
Emmett slammed the guy into the corridor wall, pinning him there with a large hand wrapped around his neck. “She said to let go,” he sneered, and gone was my big, cuddly, fun-loving friend. In his place was a man I knew for a fact would snap Paul’s neck without even batting an eye.
“I was just trying to help her,” Paul wheezed, squeezing his eyes closed for a second.
“Ed’s coming, B,” Emmett told me without taking his eyes off Paul.
I tried to nod, but my shaking had increased almost to the point of annoyance. I hated the fact that nightmares made me feel weak, that they brought shit to the surface, and being in that tight, damp hallway wasn’t helping me. At all.
“What did he do?” I heard behind me. It was the voice I needed most, but not the tone.
“Edward…” I started to face him, but he was instantly in front of me, his face level with mine.
Dark, worried green eyes raked over my face, but it was his touch that calmed the wrecked feelings crawling all over me. He cupped my face, and I couldn’t help but lean into it.
“Sweetness, talk to me.”
“Dream,” I said so softly that he probably had to read my lips.
His fingers slid into my hair at the base of my skull, massaging the back of my neck. “I know that much, Bella. What did this guy do?”
“He…He stopped me from falling, but I can’t…” I squeezed my eyes closed, focusing on the only touch that mattered, the touch that, above all others, soothed me. “It’s not his fault, Edward. He doesn’t know.”
“Hmm,” he hummed, dropping his forehead to mine. “Did you need the bathroom, love?” he whispered, and when I nodded, he pulled back, opened the door, and guided me in. “I’ll be here when you’re done.”
Nodding, I reached for the door to close it, but stopped when Edward jerked a chin to Emmett. He took his place in front of Paul, and his voice was low, deadly…a warning.
“Touch her again, and I’ll rip your fingers off one by fucking one and feed them to you,” he sneered low. “Do I make myself crystal clear?”
“I was just helping her,” Paul snapped, stepping up into Edward’s face.
Edward had two inches in height on the guy, and Emmett, who was standing by just in case he was needed, wearing a hopeful, yet dark expression, had another inch or so. However, my husband was broader-shouldered and so protective of me that he’d snap if Paul even flinched. Luckily, the man was smart enough to stand still.
“She doesn’t need your help,” Edward countered. “On her worst day, she’d kick your ass, but when she tells you something, you’d better fucking listen.”
“Possessive much, asshole?” Paul growled, and then quickly found himself back up against the wall.
Edward’s forearm was crushing his throat, but it was the sick, twisted smile on my husband’s face that made me reach for him. Emmett, however, stepped in my way, shaking his head.
“Motherfucker, you don’t know shit,” Edward snarled. “So I’ll clue you the fuck in. Okay?” he asked sarcastically. “She doesn’t like to be touched by people she doesn’t know…number one. Number two, she doesn’t fucking know you. Number three…the last asshole that touched her without permission was a sadistic little fucker. I made sure he rotted in a hole in the ground for six months before I gave him permission to die. Got me?”
Edward slammed his forearm against Paul’s throat for emphasis, causing the man to groan when his head met hard steel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to punch Edward or kiss him. He would always protect me. It was deeply ingrained in him. However, something about what Edward had said, or the tone in which he’d said it, made Paul stop.
His eyes narrowed, glancing from Edward to Emmett and finally to me. He relaxed in Edward’s grip. “What happened?”
Edward shook his head and shoved off of him, but it was Emmett that said, “Believe me, you don’t wanna know, dude. Seriously.”
“Edward,” I called him, and all the boys froze like they’d forgotten I was even there.
When he turned to face me, he shook off the harsh, cold look in his eye.
“He didn’t know, and he kept me from falling. The timing was poor,” I whispered, shaking my head. “Just…leave it.”
Edward stepped across the hallway, reaching up to cup my face, but his thumb swiped gently beneath my eye. The contrast from fierce protector and gentle caretaker was immense. Huge. Black and white. And it was something he’d been doing for me since he’d wrapped a leather jacket around my battered body and yanked me from the depths of hell. I wasn’t even sure he was aware he did it.
Paul straightened up, smoothing out his clothes. “My apologies, Bella.”
I nodded, waving it away, but turned to the sink to start some warm water.
“Can she do this?” he whispered, most likely to Emmett, but Edward couldn’t stop his mouth if he tried.
“Worry about yourself, asshat. What she can and can’t do is no fucking concern of yours. Got me?” he practically growled through gritted teeth.
“Fine, whatever,” Paul said with raised hands. “It’s your fucking necks. I don’t give a shit.”
“Oh my fucking hell…” Edward snapped, pointing to Emmett. “Get him the fuck away from me before I snap his goddamn neck!”
“Paul!” Finn snarled from the stairs leading up to the deck. “We’re in very cold, shark-infested waters. If they throw you over, I’m not even gonna slow this bastard down. Am I clear?”
“Yeah,” Paul sighed, walking his way. “You should check that temper of yours, cocksucker,” he tossed over his shoulder.
“Mm, I’ll take that under advisement, princess,” Edward snarked back.
“Get up here, take the fucking wheel, and shut the fuck up,” Finn ordered Paul, who disappeared up the steps.
Shaking my head, I turned to the water, finally washing my face and drying it. I stepped out to the hallway, ignoring the over six foot puppy I had trailing after me. When I went back into the room, Edward entered behind me, closing the door. He sat on the edge of the bottom bunk while I pulled on a thick hoodie over my thermals. I could feel the air getting colder the farther north we went.
I reached out for his hand, and he took it, allowing me to tug him to his feet.
“Sweetness, are you okay?” he asked worriedly.
“I will be when I get out of this steel room, Edward,” I told him, pulling the door open.
I couldn’t get up the stairs quickly enough. I needed open space, clean air, even if it was damp and cold. I walked straight out to the bow, leaning against the railing and letting my eyes close as I took long, deep breaths. Warmth surrounded me as Edward wrapped himself around me from behind.
“Talk to me. Please,” he whispered in my ear.
“It was just a dream, Edward,” I sighed, finally able to relax in his arms. “But I honestly don’t think we can take this boat back home.”
Edward was quiet for a moment, his fingers giving me his touch – one hand under my clothes, flat against the skin of my stomach, and the other toying with my hair.
“Okay,” he finally conceded. “I’ll tell Dad. Maybe we can get his private plane to pick us up somewhere.”
I turned in his arms, and he caged me in against the railing as he gazed down at me. “You really don’ t like him,” I stated.
“I really fucking don’t,” he sighed, dropping a kiss to my forehead before pulling back to look out over the water. “I’m sure he’s fine at what he does, but he’s a smug prick who thinks he can charm anything with tits.”
My head fell back as I laughed. “Well, gosh, Edward! Doesn’t that sound familiar?”
Edward fought his smile and lost, and his chuckle was soft, embarrassed. “Was I that bad?”
“Worse,” I said with a giggle. “You were cranky, snippy, and bossy on top of all that.”
He grinned and shook his head, dropping his lips to mine. “Wh-Whatever d-did y-you s-see i-in m-me, s-sweetness?” he sputtered, and I knew that wasn’t a rhetorical question. He really wanted to know.
I cupped his face, my brow furrowing. “Everything.”
Edward’s smile was shy, sweet, and just plain sexy before he kissed me. I wanted to tell him that it was that stutter that did it, that sweet honest sound that reminded me of the incredibly cute thirteen-year-old I’d met so long ago. I wanted to tell him that it was every time he’d pick me up, dust me off, hug me when I was shattering to pieces, or push me when I thought I’d reached a dead end, but I didn’t get a chance.
“Guys,” Carlisle said, walking up to us. We separated, and he smiled my way, reaching up to tap my chin. “You okay, sweetheart?” When I nodded, he kissed my forehead. “Good. We’re coming up on our stopping point. We’ll drop anchor for a few hours and then move on in. I’d like to go over the plans with everyone one more time.”
“Sir,” Edward stated, nodding once. “We also need a last-minute equipment and coms check.”
“Exactly. So let’s get everyone in the galley as soon as we stop, hmm?” Carlisle suggested, and he started to turn, but stopped, facing his son. “And son, you have to set aside whatever your feelings are for that guy. I don’t give a fuck what you have to do. They’re helping us in ways that could get them in serious trouble. Copy?”
Edward’s lip curled in anger, but he nodded. “Ten-four.”
Carlisle studied his son for a moment, but turned to me. “That being said, he won’t touch you again. I made sure of it.”
My eyebrows shot up at his unforgiving tone. Despite what he used to do for a living, Carlisle had become mellow and calm in the years I’d been with Edward, but that cold tone, that fierce gaze, revealed the no-nonsense man he used to be.
“’Kay,” I whispered, with wide eyes. “Do I want to know?”
“No,” he stated firmly, walking away.
Edward turned to me. “You ready to do this?” he asked, his eyes a sharp green in contrast to the gray clouds and water around us. “Or do you need a minute?”
I let out a deep breath, giving myself a second. The eerie feelings that the nightmare had left me with were gone. They’d been sharp, but as always, Edward had pulled me from the abyss, even with all the arguing with Paul.
I shook my head. “Nope, I’m ready.”
The galley seemed to be fuller than usual with all of us in there crammed around the computers, but I was pretty sure it was due to the heavier, thicker coats we were all wearing. It was snow camouflage – white with gray and black, all digitized to blend into our surroundings. And our surroundings were going to be snow, sleet, and damn cold, not to mention the black of night.
“The snow won’t stick,” Alice chattered over the video chat. “But it will give you cover at least for the night. A real-time satellite image shows approximately two dozen warm bodies on that island. I’ve tracked the uranium to the center-most part of the main building.”
“And our targets?” I asked, strapping on neoprene gloves, which would allow for movement of my fingers, but insulate the heat. Once they were on, I traded my black baseball cap for a white one.
“They left Kurt on the transport. He’s already reunited with Eleazar. However, Boris made sure that he was taken. He gave them enough ‘help’ getting in that they allowed him to stay with the crate. Unfortunately, he’s not chipped, and neither is our MI-6 guy.” The picture of a man’s face popped up on the main screen.
Makenna’s face took over the video. “Edward, this is Nicholas. He knows you’re coming. Eleazar got a message to him during the takedown of the transport ship.”
The face on the screen was a guy in his mid-twenties, with light brown hair, hazel eyes, and a small scar just below his right eye. Memorizing his face, I noted that the scar would be my identifying mark when making sure I didn’t accidentally kill this guy. Eleazar had requested that we pull him out if possible. My objective was the uranium, but I was going to damn well try to get this MI-6 guy out of the line of fire. My dad, on the other hand, was all about finding Boris and hunting this Stefan asshole down. He was determined to end this guy, if only to stop any more nukes from being sold. He wasn’t the only fucker selling them, but one less asshole was one less asshole, according to Carlisle Cullen.
My eyes raked over my crew as Alice gave coordinates, calibrated trackers, and adjusted cameras. Bella and Jasper were camouflaging their weapons, tying white and light gray strips of fabric to them in order for them to not stand out. My father was studying the map of the island we’d be attacking, his head close to Alec’s as they verified where everyone would go in. Emmett was loaded down with weapons. We’d been asked not to destroy the building if at all possible, but he carried the grenades just in case. And finally, Mickey, who was pulling on the same type of gloves I was while glaring at the picture of Nicholas and committing him to memory.
Every last one of them were focused, ready, and determined to get this shit done. We were hoping for it to all be over by the time the sun came up. However, the weather, the unknown of this island, and Stefan’s desperation made me fucking nervous. I wasn’t quite sure what he’d do if he realized that not only was he surrounded, but his own man had set him up. Fifty million would make anyone twitchy. The loss of fifty million could make a man snap completely. And this asshole had no idea that the money had already been taken off the table, and we were pushing the time limits as it was for him to find out.
Finn stepped down into the galley. “Edward, you’re prepped and ready. The two dinghies are fueled up and tied along the starboard bow. If I were you, I’d get to it ASAP, before the heavier part of this weather takes hold. It’ll be easier to maneuver in it if you’re on solid ground.”
“Roger that,” I grunted with a nod, snatching up my Sig and draping it across my shoulder. “And thank you.”
“We’ll be here,” he said, shaking my hand firmly. “I’d like to help you, but the most I can do is cover the water if someone slips through.”
“That’s…plenty,” I said gratefully. “In fact, you probably shouldn’t even be doing that, but your secret’s safe here,” I added, gesturing to my crew. Turning to face the room, I cleared my throat. “Let’s load up. You know your teams, you know the plan, and I’d like to be eating Tex’s cookin’ by sunup.”
The old man grinned from behind the stove, raising a coffee mug in salute. “Whatever you want, I’ll cook it. Kick ass out there.”
“Hooah!” we all grunted, stepping up out of the galley and onto the deck.
The wind was sharp and bitingly cold. The snow swirled around us in heavy flurries, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, though it was quite possible the weather would get worse by the time we reached shore.
We were anchored a safe distance from our target location on the other side of one of the smaller islands. We simply had to skirt the outside heading northeast. From there, we’d separate into two teams.
Shane and Finn helped load us into the dinghies, giving us a small wave once we were started up.
My dad, Alec, and Bella were in mine, and I tugged Bella’s jacket, pulling her ear to my mouth. “Watch your surroundings, sweetness. And watch that those gloves don’t knock your feel for the trigger off a bit.”
She nodded, adjusting her snow camo jacket up tighter around her. “Okay.”
I was actually grateful for the wind. We were heading directly into it, which caused the sound of the small motors to get carried away from our target. When we emerged on the southern side of our intended island, I gave a silent signal to Jasper’s team to split up. He had Emmett and Mickey. We’d have a sniper in a held position on the east and west of the lab, a team of three, and a team of two going in stealthy and silently. The weather was doing us a favor; it had brought all the pacing guards inside the lab. We’d have zero resistance up to the building.
When we reached shore, I stepped out, dragging the dinghy up onto land and tying it down as best I could. We’d need the bastard to get back to Finn.
“J, check in,” I called over the radio.
“We’re on shore, setting up for stage one,” he stated.
“Roger that,” I told him, using hand signals to lead my team up onto higher ground. I wanted Bella set and in position before Alec, Dad, and I took off.
“Bella, set up here,” my dad ordered, kneeling down behind a natural rock wall. It gave her a perfect overview of not only the area surrounding the lab, but a straight shot to the metal catwalks that wound their way from the top of the building to the bottom.
She settled herself down, and I kneeled down next to her.
“Look at me, sweetness,” I ordered, pointing to my eyes. “I want constant communication from you. You tell me everything you see from here. J, that goes for you, too, once you’re set up. Am I clear?”
“Yes,” Bella said, nodding.
“Ten-four, Ed,” Jasper replied.
Bella leaned up, kissing me quickly. “You stay safe.”
“Stay sharp,” I countered like I always did, but I reached down to her thigh holster, pulling out her nine mil and setting it near her. “Just in case you find yourself with company. Got me?”
She grinned, pulling her hood up as the snow got heavier. “Go. I’ve got your back.”
“Don’t I know it,” I chuckled, staying crouched as I led Alec and my dad down the slope toward the outer edge of the lab’s property. “Everyone, on me. Alice, talk to me, pixie.”
“Okay, okay, okay,” she chanted. “Thanks to Jack Frost, you’ve got zero signs of life anywhere other than the building. There’s a concentrated source of them in the upper level, which must be some living quarters or some shit. You’ve got three guards pacing the catwalks on each side. Copy that? Each side.”
“Ten-four,” I acknowledged. “Sweetness, Jazz, those guys are on you. We can’t cross the fields without those lookouts gone.”
“Copy that,” they both replied.
Jasper started humming, and I snorted to myself at his song choice. Alec grinned, shaking his head as the notes of We Will Rock You came floating softly over the earpieces in Jasper’s soft, mellow tone. I wasn’t sure Queen was supposed to be sung with a southern drawl, but it kept Jasper calm and focused, so I couldn’t fucking say a word.
However, he paused long enough to instruct Bella. “Bells, this wind needs three clicks. Make sure you account for it. And if I were you, I’d start at the bottom and work your way up. That way, they don’t see the bastards fall.”
“Ten-four, Jazz,” she answered him.
Putting the NVGs up to my eyes, I listened to the two of them – Jasper’s humming and Bella’s counting to herself. I couldn’t see his side of the building, but my girl had a tough call to make, because there were two assholes walking together in the middle, with a single target at the bottom. And it was that guy she aimed for first.
There wasn’t a sound heard, but he jerked hard, his body falling over the railing. He landed without a sound to the snowy drift below.
“Ooh-wee,” Alec praised softly. “That’s one, Bellisima.”
“Two to go,” both Bella and Jasper advised.
My eyes went back to the two guys walking together. They were completely ignorant to their buddy’s fate.
I saw another man fall from the other side, but Bella still hadn’t taken her shot.
“Sweetness, you’ll have to do it quick. One right after the other,” I suggested. “Don’t give the last one a chance to raise the alarm.”
“I know,” she murmured over the earpieces.
“East side is clear,” Emmett advised.
“Copy that. Hold for my say,” I ordered.
I heard Bella mutter softly to herself and then a whoosh of a long, nervous breath being let out. Watching though the night vision, I shook my head. The two men made a turn to take their walk back toward the other end. She took them out perfectly – one right after the other – with one collapsing to the ground below and one falling into a heap on the catwalk.
“Go, go, go,” I ordered, pulling my weapon and readying it. “Awesome job, sweetness.” I turned to my dad. “We gotta get up those steps and move that body before someone comes to check.”
“Sorry, Edward. It was the only way,” Bella stated as my team hit the metal stairs at a run.
“It was damn good work, baby,” I panted, taking the next level of stairs three at a time. “No apologies necessary. Just watch for company.”
“Of course,” she chirped, and I wanted to chuckle at the smile in her voice. My girl was smug right about now, as she should be.
I rounded the next set of steps, coming out on the catwalk in the middle. The door we were aiming for was at the end. I stepped quietly and carefully toward the guard’s body. With a quick shove, he dropped to the snow drifts on the ground.
“Problem solved, sweetness,” I told her.
“Hide!” she ordered, and all three of us melted against the pipes and metal framework.
The wind yanked the door out of someone’s hand, slamming it back, but before he could close it, he was already falling to the ground below.
“Thanks, love,” I whispered, jerking my chin to Dad.
He and Alec covered the door as I eyed just inside. The hallway was stark white, the fluorescents almost blinding.
“Okay, Emmett,” I whispered. “Work your magic.”
Emmett’s job was to kill the power. This whole building was working off a couple of generators on the top floor. We knew if we killed their power, it would send them into a panic, but we had the advantage with the NVGs.
Plastering my back against the doorway, I pulled my goggles down, waiting until Alec and my dad did the same. The soft hum of the generators was hardly noticeable in the wind of the snow storm, but when they shut down, the silence was almost deafening. And the blinding green that showed the lights inside immediately dimmed to something much easier to handle.
“Heads up, heads up, heads up,” Alice chanted. “You just sent them scattering. Well, a couple, anyway. Lazy asses. You’ve got two warm bodies heading your way, Mickey.”
“On it,” Mickey replied.
“No, Mick, I got this,” Jasper drawled. “Slip back.”
“Roger that,” she answered him.
I couldn’t see that side, but I trusted Jasper to handle it. And handle it, he did. I don’t think I’d taken two steps into the deserted hallway before he called Mickey and Emmett clear to move on inside.
“Edward,” Rose called. “Your side is clear to make your way in. No movement.”
“Copy,” I whispered.
Dad, Alec, and I took the hall slowly, silently, only stopping when voices met our ears. And from the muffled tones, they sounded like they were coming from the end of the hall. We came to a juncture in the hall, and I found the muzzle of my gun right in Mickey’s face. She merely grinned and batted it away.
Using silent signals, I told them to split up. The main living facility had two entrances. We were going in on both sides. But here was where I needed Alice the most.
“Pixie,” I whispered, bracing myself to kick the door in.
“Edward, listen. You can’t go in there guns blazing. I can’t tell one warm body from another. You could kill Boris or Nicholas.” When I hummed in acknowledgment, she went on. “Might I suggest a flash disc? You can see them, but they can’t see you.”
Alec slapped my shoulder with the back of his hand, holding out two discs. He nodded in agreement, but he also handed me a small camera. Kneeling down, I slid it underneath the door.
I removed my goggles, studying the scene playing out on my camera. Alec spoke so quietly that I almost couldn’t hear him as he looked on over my shoulder.
“Toss them straight in. You’ve got a group in the middle – I’d say sitting at a table. You’ve got a couple along the side to your right…most likely a couch or along the wall,” he advised. “The two along the side…show them again. One of them could be Boris.”
My eyebrows shot up at his guess, but he was right. Two men sat side by side, and one was bound and gagged.
“Be advised,” Rose stated. “You’ve got a cluster of heat sources one level above you, and that’s where the uranium is transmitting.”
“Well, shit just got a helluva lot harder,” I murmured, pulling the camera back and stowing it in my bag as I stepped away from the door. “Em, your door is directly across from mine. You’ll not aim anything near the wall to your left…my right. Copy?”
“Ten-four,” he whispered. “Turnin’ on the kitchen light, but the roaches will scatter…”
“No shit,” I sighed. “Bella, J, you’ll catch anything that comes out of this building, especially if they’re carrying anything…and no one fucking makes it to a goddamn boat. Am I clear?”
Both answered quickly and affirmatively.
“Flash discs first?” Emmett asked.
“Hell yes,” I hissed, jerking my chin to Alec to kick the door in. “In three, two…one!”
Alec kicked hard, and the door gave way. I didn’t even look inside; I just slid my two discs inside across the floor, plastering my back against the corridor wall. Pulling my goggles back down, I flinched at the pop-pop-pop of my discs and Emmett’s going off, almost simultaneously. The flashes were blinding through the goggles, but it didn’t last long. The room erupted in several different languages and furniture being turned over. Dad took position in the hallway, kneeling and aiming toward the door.
“Everyone, down on the ground!” Emmett ordered, setting off a loud set of bullets into the ceiling. “Let’s go! Down! If you don’t speak my language, you may be shit outta luck.”
Some fool decided to test him – or he didn’t speak English – and raised his gun. None of us thought twice, leveling every man with a weapon with several shots.
“Clear,” Mickey and Alec called out as Emmett nudged a fucker or two with his boot.
“Carlisle!” I heard to my right, and Dad rushed to Boris, who wasn’t looking so hot.
He was alone, sitting up against the wall, and apparently, the other person that had been sitting with him was some sort of guard. That guy was lying with the rest of his pals. Pulling out my knife, I cut the ties around Boris’s ankles and his wrists. He was pale, sweaty, and shaking.
“Boris, you okay?” I asked, checking his eyes and pulse. I couldn’t find a mark on him.
“Yeah, yeah…just tired. There’s more…there’s a storage room…the crate…” he wheezed, but he was gripping my dad tenaciously. He pointed to the ceiling above us.
I smiled ruefully at the sound of panicked running, yelling, and curses. “Dad, if you want this guy, I suggest you get your ass up and come with me. Emmett, Mickey, get Boris down to one of the boats. Advise Jasper before you step outside those damn doors. He’s likely to kill you all.”
Jasper chuckled, but said nothing more.
Emmett, the strong bastard that he was, simply reached down and lifted Boris to his feet, wrapping his arm around his shoulder. Before Dad and I could walk away, Boris grabbed my dad’s jacket.
“I held them off the British kid as long as I could, but Stefan was suspicious from the get-go. I’m afraid I’ve gotten too old for this shit, Cullen,” he whispered, smirking a little, but the man was weak.
“You and me both, Zukov. When we’re done, we’ll sit back with a drink, yeah?”
“Yeah, sure,” Boris muttered, and that shit didn’t sound good to me, but I didn’t say anything. My dad wasn’t stupid; he could see it, too.
“Let’s go,” I said, pointing toward the door. Turning to Emmett, I said, “Be careful with him. Watch your surroundings.”
“Yeah, Ed. I hear ya,” Em grunted, practically carrying Boris out into the corridor.
Alec took lead on the stairs up to the next level. We stayed close to his back as Emmett called out to Jasper that he was stepping outside. I could also hear Bella catching a couple of men trying to escape.
The door wasn’t fully closed when we made it up the steps, but I took the opportunity to hurry to the other side, bracing myself for a glance inside.
“Edward, you’re at the uranium’s tracking location,” Rose advised over the com links. “You’ve got a man just on the other side of the wall that you’re on, there’s another on the wall opposite Alec, and there’s movement – lots of movement. Looks like someone pacing. All in all, there’s a total of six bodies inside that room. The problem is…we don’t know which one is Nicholas Gruber.”
I couldn’t answer her or I’d be busted, not that they weren’t panicked at the sound of gunfire. I could hear it in their hissing instructions to each other. The problem was that we were blind going in. Using hand signals, I made a plan with Alec. We’d take down the two guards at the door and use one as a shield. However, I’d have to change from my Sig to my Glock to get this shit done.
My dad lowered himself to a kneeling position, aiming toward the room. Slowly, carefully, I reached inside, wrapping my hand around the guard’s mouth and pulling him from the room at the same time that Alec kicked the door open into the other guard’s face. He kicked the fucker so hard that he collapsed to a heap in the corner.
“Don’t come any closer!” a voice called out.
“Don’t fucking move,” I hissed in the guard’s ear, pointing my Glock underneath his chin. I stepped us into the doorway, smiling at the sight before me.
Two men stood at the far back of the room. George Stefan stood in front of my motherfucking crate, only he had his own shield: Nicholas Gruber.
“Kill the extras,” I ordered Alec.
Two shots went off, and the two in the back of the room were ended, leaving a very nervous Stefan holding a rather calm Nicholas.
“Kill him. He doesn’t matter,” Stefan said, jerking his chin toward the man in my grip.
“Nice boss you got there, asshole,” I muttered, rolling my eyes.
Dad and Alec stepped slowly into the room, and they, too, had changed from automatic rifles to their handguns, both aimed Stefan’s way. And they continued to move slowly apart, essentially surrounding him.
“I’ll kill him!” he threatened, pulling the hammer back on his gun at Nicholas’s temple.
“Okay,” Alec shrugged, feigning indifference. “We don’t know this guy. We just came for the crate, Stefan.”
When Stefan realized who the other man in the room was, his eyes narrowed. “Cullen?” he asked. “I thought…you were supposed to be dead!”
“Hmm, ’fraid not,” my dad sang. “You know, you won’t get out of this alive, George. I gotta take that crate.”
“Do you have any idea what this shit is worth?!” he yelled, nudging the crate with his foot.
“Not fifty million,” Alec taunted with a grin. “Your North Korean buyer has backed out. They don’t want anything to do with it. This shit’s too hot now. You’ll never sell it.”
Stefan flinched, his rage reaching a peak, but I took the opportunity to pull the trigger, dropping his guard at my feet.
I pointed my Glock at Stefan’s head. “There are three guns aimed at your head, Stefan. Odds are, someone’s gonna hit the mark. Step away from the crate. We’re taking it, whether you like it or not.”
My gaze dropped to Nicholas, who was fighting Stefan’s arm around his neck for air. However, his eyes slipped past us, widening just enough to make me look. The guard that Alec had knocked out was coming around, pulling his weapon out. I fired off three shots into the guy, and four more popped inside the small room.
When I turned back around, Nicholas was writhing on the floor next to Stefan, who had two shots in the middle of his forehead.
“Dammit,” I grunted, kneeling next to the guy. “How bad?”
“Bloody fucking hell,” Nicholas growled, holding his bicep. “I guess it could be worse.”
Grinning, I ripped off a piece of Stefan’s shirt, tying it around his arm. “The name’s Cullen. Eleazar sent us.”
“Yeah, I figured.” He sat up with a little help from me, leaning back against the wall. “I’m glad that’s over. What a foul git he was,” he sighed, allowing me to help him to his feet.
“You’re gonna bleed out. We need to get moving,” I warned him. “Can you walk?”
“Yeah, I’m good,” he sighed, reaching for my hand. “Thanks.”
“C’mon. You can thank me when we get you someplace to clean that up,” I told him, jerking a chin to Alec to help me with the crate.
We made our way back down to the next level, and I stopped us just before the outside doors. “Sweetness, we’re comin’ out. Don’t shoot, baby. That’d really suck.”
“Copy that,” she said with an absolutely adorable giggle. “Everybody okay?”
“I’ve got a wounded man, love. Just be waiting at the boat, copy?”
The weather had calmed down from snow to really fucking cold rain, but we made our way down to the dinghy.
“Jazz, check in!”
“I got a problem!” he yelled, but was counting off. “One, two, three, four, five….breathe!”
“Eddie, we gotta haul ass to Finn. Boris is having a heart attack. He collapsed just as we got to the shoreline. We just now got him breathing,” Mickey advised.
“Then, go! We’ll be right behind you,” I grunted, setting the crate inside our dinghy.
“Copy that,” she replied.
Bella was a fucking sight for sore eyes when I turned around. “You heard.”
“I did,” she said, getting in the boat, followed by Alec and my dad. She pulled out the first aid kit, making Nicholas sit beside her. “Hey, I’m Bella.”
“Pleasure,” he said, his British accent thick and soft. “You always come prepared?”
“Uh…yeah,” she huffed, rolling her eyes. “I never know with these guys. I can at least put pressure on that arm until we get to the ship.”
I sat down at the motor, starting it up and chuckling her way, but she ignored it. “Your faith is overwhelming, sweetness.”
She cracked a smile. “Shut it, Edward. I need out of this cold.”
“And we need to get to Boris,” my dad added, but his voice didn’t sound so confident.
“Roger that,” I said, tearing out across the water. My eyes landed on the crate at my feet, and I let out a big sigh of relief that it was finally in the right hands. Permanently.


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